What is a typical reaction time when braking?

Reaction times have a lot to do with accident odds in the car. Part of the reason that things like distracted driving, drunk driving and drowsy driving are so risky is that they all reduce your reaction times. In terms of braking, this time includes the following:

  • Recognizing the need to stop, such as a red light or a crash up ahead.
  • Removing one’s foot from the gas pedal.
  • Putting that foot on the brake.
  • Applying enough pressure to slow and eventually stop the car.

How long does that take? It depends on many factors. Typically, police units that are reconstructing accidents assume that it takes a second and a half. In one study, the average was actually closer to 2.3 seconds. Researchers note that the real time could be as low as 0.7 seconds or as high as 3 seconds.

Naturally, that reaction time could be much higher if that driver is negligent or reckless. For example, say that the driver is young and fit, so they should take just 1.5 seconds to begin stopping. However, they’re on their phone when the light changes. They don’t even see it for 1.5 extra seconds. Now they have doubled their stopping reaction time and vastly increased the odds that they’re going to accidentally run the red light. If they do, and if you are driving through the intersection at that time, the additional 1.5 seconds could be the difference between driving safely and getting into an accident.

If you do get injured in a crash, you may need financial compensation for your medical bills and related costs.

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